If you want to be inspired by the next generation and feel good about the future, spend 10 minutes with Petrona Dominguez.

The recent high school graduate is poised, articulate and driven. She’ll make you want to revisit your high school years and do them again, like you mean it this time.

This fall Petrona will be the first member of her family to attend college, a future that she hadn’t considered until she received mentorship and support from Adelante Mujeres, a United Way Community Strengthening partner that provides education and empowerment opportunities to low-income Latina women and their families.

“I've been able to learn about myself, my culture and my identity,” Petrona said. “They're always focused on making sure that these Latina young ladies are studying, they're doing their homework, they're doing everything they can. They want the best for us. They've become like a second family to me.”

United Way is harnessing the caring power of people across our four counties to give every kid a fair chance. We’re working together with over 70 nonprofit partners to increase the number of kids graduating high school on time to 85%. 

“United Way is heading in the direction that we really believe is going to get results,” said Bridget Cooke, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Adelante Mujeres. “As nonprofits, we’re doing all that we can, but we don’t often have time to come together and convene and talk about shared resources and best practices and learn from one another. So if United Way is able to play that mediator role, get us all at the table, start that dialogue and guide those conversations, I think we can really see some change in the community.”

Petrona is proof that our approach is working. Not only is she headed to college, she’s armed with scholarships.

“When they started naming the scholarship winners at the ceremony, the second name they read was mine. The moment I heard Petrona, I wanted to cry. They didn't choose me because they knew who I was, but because they know the potential that I have.”

For Petrona, receiving a scholarship was about more than money.

“It was about all the hard work that I put in. It meant a lot to my mom. I saw her crying in the audience when I was on stage. It was huge to see her so proud of what I accomplished.”

Now Petrona is helping young girls who are beginning the same program that helped her realize her full potential.

Ten-year-old Brianna is already dreaming big, thanks to Petrona’s mentorship.

“I know I’m going to go to college,” Brianna said. “I’ve been preparing myself.”


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